Online Now 736

Clemons' TD run shows his potential

Without one third-quarter broken play, UK running back Josh Clemons and Raymond Sanders combined for 21 carries and 103 yards — a decent yard-per-carry average of 4.9 but maybe not enough to shift the momentum of the entire game from decidedly Central Michigan to decidedly Cats.

Josh Clemons finishes his sprint toward the end zone, capping off an 87-yard run that became the best-ever for a UK freshman.

That’s why running backs coach Steve Pardue was particularly happy to have that singular third-quarter broken play.

Clemons, a true freshman in his second career game, took a handoff and ran into a wall up the middle behind the line of scrimmage. He kept his balance because the would-be Chippewas tackler didn’t wrap him up, and he saw enough of a hole to the right to maybe make something out of it.

Eighty-seven yards later, Clemons finished his sprint into the end zone. He had given UK its first lead of the game, 20-13, and that was enough to keep the Chippewas from winning their first-ever game against an SEC opponent despite a halftime lead more convincing than the 13-6 score would indicate.

The run became the longest ever for a UK freshman and the fourth-longest for a UK player of any class. No Cats rusher had run off one as long since Bernie Scruggs went 88 yards on Oct. 24, 1970.

Clemons also became the first freshman running back to record a 100-yard game since Arliss Beach ran for 108 yards against Texas-El Paso in 2002.

“That was a key run and we just needed somebody to make something happen. Low and behold, it was him,” Pardue said of Clemons’ 87-yarder. “I thought we blocked it really well up front but he kept his balance and found a hole somewhere and made it happen. That shows you he can really run. We didn’t know he had that kind of speed to beat the angle on some of the defensive backs. That turned it around for us offensively because he continued to run well, and Raymond ran well after that when he came back in.”

Clemons has had a bit of a reputation as a power runner to this point, even though he said after the game that he’s been recently clocked as running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. But he said he sees himself as a versatile back that can run up the middle or burn the edges with his speed.

The 5-10, 210-pound back from Fayetteville, Ga., showed a glimpse of his talent in Sept. 1’s opener against Western Kentucky, if only briefly: He had 39 yards on 11 rushes, including a 14-yard touchdown run. He said he considered that game important because it gave him a chance to get some jitters out and get a preview of Division I-type speed that he’ll see for the next four years.

Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton congratulates Josh Clemons (left) after his 87-yard touchdown run Saturday against Central Michigan.

Saturday was important, he said, because he didn’t want to take a step back.

“You always want to get better. That’s always the key,” Clemons said. “I know I got playing time last week but I have to forget about that and move on. I’m just trying to grow every day in practice, and none of that matters if that doesn’t show in the games.”

Head coach Joker Phillips has been impressed enough with Clemons in preseason camp and through the first week of game-to-game practices to put him as the second-stringer as a true freshman, but Phillips said he didn’t know if, how or when that was going to translate to games.

One third-quarter broken play showed Phillips all he needed to see.

“Unbelievable run when he broke the tackle,” Phillips said. “He showed speed. We thought he had good speed, but we didn’t know if he had that kind of speed. He has game speed.

“He missed a couple of runs also, which he’ll be the first to tell you that. That will come with experience also. But he’s a really natural, really good runner for us.”

  • ajp40505 said... (original post)

    Professor, one reason for that is the toss sweep that SEC teams run a lot and we seldom do. I'm not sure why we don't run that play. The long Clemons run was on that jab step misdirection play that we used to run a bunch with Little. I could be wrong, but I believe that was the first time we ran that play this year and it sure worked out well.

    The Clemons TD run showed his potential, but it also showed Darrian Miller's potential. We've got a future o-line star in Miller.

    why wouldn't UK run the too sweep then?

    signature image

    http://bigbluefans4uk.com

  • TheProfessor said... (original post)

    why wouldn't UK run the toss sweep then?

    Someone needs to ask Joker or Randy Sanders that question.

  • TheProfessor said... (original post)

    why wouldn't UK run the too sweep then?

    Because it is a risky play in that the QB has to turn and toss it underhanded to hit a RB in stride as he's running. If you'll remember, it is the play that Gainer fumbled in the endzone last year in the UGA game (he coincidentally rarely played again the rest of the year). I personally LOVE the toss sweep, but our coaches are notoriously overly-conservative or worried about plays like that and once they called it and it resulted in a fumble in the endzone last year, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see it again for a long time. Coaches tend to be superstitious like that.

  • mjdotson said... (original post)

    Because it is a risky play in that the QB has to turn and toss it underhanded to hit a RB in stride as he's running. If you'll remember, it is the play that Gainer fumbled in the endzone last year in the UGA game (he coincidentally rarely played again the rest of the year). I personally LOVE the toss sweep, but our coaches are notoriously overly-conservative or worried about plays like that and once they called it and it resulted in a fumble in the endzone last year, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see it again for a long time. Coaches tend to be superstitious like that.

    Gainer redshirted last year. You taling about Russell?

    How can the toss sweep be any riskier than the option pitch that UK seems to lik eto run on critical downs?

  • TheProfessor said... (original post)

    I am no expert on these things, by a long shot, but what I seem to see when I watch UK's backs v backs for teams like Georgia, South Carolina, etc is how quick their backs get to the outside compared to UK backs. I don't know if my eyes are deceiving, or if that is indeed the case, but it sure seems that way to me. Furthermore, if that is the case, I would like to know why that happens.

    Is it the speed of the back himself, or

    Is it something about how the teams run these outside running plays that allows blockers to get out their quicker, thus allowing the back to more fully utilize his speed?

    I think part of it is how decisive the backs at UGa and SC are in getting to the edge. UK's backs, at least to me, seem to string plays out to the edge while they decide when to turn it up. They need to make that decision and hit their hole quickly and angrily. UK's backs have the speed to do just as Crowell and Lattimore do, especially Clemons.

    signature image signature image signature image

    "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." ~ Emerson

  • mjdotson said... (original post)

    Because it is a risky play in that the QB has to turn and toss it underhanded to hit a RB in stride as he's running. If you'll remember, it is the play that Gainer fumbled in the endzone last year in the UGA game (he coincidentally rarely played again the rest of the year). I personally LOVE the toss sweep, but our coaches are notoriously overly-conservative or worried about plays like that and once they called it and it resulted in a fumble in the endzone last year, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see it again for a long time. Coaches tend to be superstitious like that.

    Look, I agree we should have never ran that play in the end zone with a freshman back, but to say the play is too risky when we are anywhere on the field beyond the twenty yard line is absurd. Surely our coaches have more sense than that.

  • alphacat93 said... (original post)

    I think part of it is how decisive the backs at UGa and SC are in getting to the edge. UK's backs, at least to me, seem to string plays out to the edge while they decide when to turn it up. They need to make that decision and hit their hole quickly and angrily. UK's backs have the speed to do just as Crowell and Lattimore do, especially Clemons.

    alpha, thanks for your response, and your explanation is closer to what I have seen than any other. I have simply not seen UK backs run as hard, or as you say, "angrily" as the backs for most SEC teams. I have not seen that same determination to make an opponent pay.

    I don't know whether that is due to coaching, differences in individual players' demeanor, or some other factor that continues to escape my mind.

    As for the idea that the toss sweep is too risky, and if that is truly a consideration that UK coaches have made, then I am disappointed that they have not recruited the type of players they need to run a "real" SEC offense, or can't coach them up to the level at which they can execute at that level.

    I watch a lot of college football each season, much more college football than I watch college basketball by anyone other than UK frankly, and I see teams with similar history and tradition as UK who seem to have players that can execute these basic offensive maneuvers that seem rare or absent from UK's arsenal, and I have never understood that disparity through all my years as a fan and observer.

    signature image

    http://bigbluefans4uk.com

Already have an account? Sign In